An update to the Republican Primary field for the 2012 Presidential Run!
(What. I did my homage to Woodstock already. Stop begging for mercy...)
I previously listed what was in April an already crowded field of wanna-bes and coulda-beens. Since then, the marquee name of Donald Trump fell flat on his ass when he obsessed too much with Obama's birth certificate and flamed out after the one-two punch of getting mocked at the Correspondents Dinner and having Bin Laden's death overshadow his shtick. As for Daniels and Huckabee, I was right about Daniels deciding to stay out... and shocked that Huckabee decided to stay out as well (considering the polls had him as the one constant threat to Obama). It seems that both of them are smarter than they look... Palin never announced either, but has developed this annoying habit of showing up at caucuses and announcements in some odd attempt to steal the spotlight.
With regards to the primaries, the only major development since April has been the addition of one more major name to the candidate list, one that had been floated earlier but not taken too seriously... until the last two weeks, during which the new candidate burst onto the scene and taken the early momentum (even away from the current pack leaders Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann). So, to update you all to the terrors that await us:
Rick Perry - Governor, Texas
Positives: Has a long political career, and has a national profile of sorts being the governor of one of the largest states in the Union. His political and personal (religious) beliefs are shared by the voting base of the Republicans, and especially the Tea Partier faction. In terms of getting the voting interest of the party base, he outshines the likes of Bachmann and definitely trounces Romney. If he stays on-message and avoids screw-ups, Perry could win the primary portion of the 2012 contest.
Negatives: While his emergence last week for the Ames Iowa Straw Caucus created a lot of positive feedback from the base, most of the party leadership pushed back (especially the likes of Karl Rove, who hit Perry unapologetically in ways he never attacked Bachmann or Palin), and he's not the savior candidate (New Jersey's Christie still has that mojo) the elites were hoping for. In a field crowded with Far Right reactionary religious types, Perry isn't helping in the long term when it will come time to appeal to moderate and independent voters who are turned off by Social Conservatism. Especially considering Perry just finished being the headlining politician at a Prayer Fest. Perry's political ideas - for example, crippling the Supreme Court, eliminating the direct vote for U.S. Senators, and amendments to outlaw gay marriage and abortion - will be toxic come October-November '12. While Perry's a two-term governor, his first election was in a four-way race where he won only 39 percent of the popular vote: not exactly a ringing endorsement from 61 percent of his own state (if Perry won in 2010, it's because he was in Texas and for some godawful reason they stopped voting Democrat in that state). And all of this pales to the biggest problem Perry has: he's a Social Conservative governor from the state of Texas who's primary platform is "faith-based government, tax-cut, and deregulate". Sound familiar? I'll give you a clue: one of Perry's supporters called him "(George W.) Bush On Steroids".
Perry is going to be running with the national perception that he is essentially following in Dubya's footsteps. It doesn't help that Perry (along with the rest of the Republican field) is going to run on the idea that Obama has been worse to America than Bush the Lesser was. And worse, that Bush's agenda - massive tax cuts, massive business deregulation, massive incompetence - was all good.
Chances: Chances of winning the primary cycle? Oddly enough, not so good. While he's got the current vibe of "Savior/White Knight" since he's the latest flavor for the media to drool over, Perry's coming in with some disadvantages: the Party leadership prefers someone else, and all the other candidates - especially Romney and Bachmann, his major opponents - have been getting things in place for months and have a huge head start in fund-raising, ground troops, and political backing. Perry's best chances depend on Romney failing to win over the Deep South and Religious Right (who still have a bias against Mormons), and on Bachmann doing something crazier than usual and flaming out before the primaries hit Florida. But if Perry does win the nomination? ...Remember what I said about "all Obama has to do against Jeb Bush is morph a photo of him into his brother George and Jeb is finished?" Perry is in the same boat because he has the same background as Dubya, and the same disregards...
You might notice that in my April listing of primary candidates, I didn't include two who are in it as of now: Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman (there are others, but these two are honestly the more serious candidates). However, I'm not going into greater detail for either one because:
1) consider "To Google Santorum". Yes, To Google is a verb (can't wait for the Latin translation). And if you Google Santorum as a search term, you may run into something akin to "Two Girls One Cup." And no, I am NOT going into further detail than that. Santorum's been a national joke for years.
2) consider that Huntsman is A) formerly employed by Obama as an Ambassador to China, B) Mormon like Romney, and C) reasonably sane in supporting evolution and climate change science, and you've basically got a candidate who doesn't have a snowball's chance in drought-ravaged Southwest U.S.
As for the Democrats' situation? While Obama has been and still is polling negatively for some time, most of that is due to an upset and unhappy Far Left base that's been abandoned during the struggles over the Debt Ceiling fiasco. Like it or not, the Party will come back to their incumbent... especially if the Republicans succeed in nominating a Social Con like Bachmann or Perry.
As of right now, who's GOP nomination is it to lose? I gotta go with Bachmann: she's got momentum, solid backing by enough in the Far Right base, and is crazy enough to stay with it until the convention. To be honest this is wide open: it all depends on if the remaining moderate base of the GOP turns out to support Romney (who has the best appeal to moderates, if any).
We'll see by South Carolina. That tends to be the breaking point for GOP campaigns.